The Ranch (Part 8)
Updated: Sep 24
“Get inside!” Sherman screamed. The five scientists that had been staring dumbly at the muzzle flashes in the distance. The distant flashes revealed some grotesqueries framed only by the darkness and gunfire. Screams began to emit as the flashes would hurry in sporadic fear, and then cut short by some creature in the dark. “Get the fuck inside!”
“What’s going on out there?!” Don yelled. His own staff were stunned by the fright as they watched their security being cut off in the night.
“Fuck this! I’m leaving!” One of the researchers announced. Others followed, heading to the array of vehicles that were stationed outside the trailer. Sherman grabbed Don by the back of his collar.
“We need to get inside!” Sherman begged, as he hauled Don back. Just as Sherman was entering the front steps, a blood-curdling shriek called through the night. From under one of the white pickup trucks, a vile brown apparition was uncoiled. Long, fang like mandibles were clamped onto a leg of a researcher who had been in the process of climbing into the truck. Most of the creature was still under the truck, a mixing of long legs and curled segmented body parts spun in queasy ways. The researcher continued to scream in pain as the monstrosity began to uncurl and reveal itself more.
The body uncurled, and continued to uncurl, rising the fanged head higher. The researcher was yanked out of the truck completely. Upended by the four eyed beast, its hundreds of legs ensnared the screaming man. The beast began to clench itself into a ball, still part way up, still part way on the ground. It curled itself around the man, its mandibles and fangs began thrusting motions. The smell of sulphatic venom filled the air. With astonishing speed, it curled and suddenly uncurled. The foul smell filled the night air. The husk of the dead researcher left in its wake, dried and sucked of all essence. The massive centipede like ghoul turned its attention back to the truck. Inside, on the passenger side, was one of the assistance. Still fumbling in panic to escape the truck. The massive red head of the insectoid apparition lunged forward. The truck began to rock with the violent struggle as the assistant began his own death screams.
Sherman gave one last tug and tossed Don back inside the trailer. He slammed the door shut, locking it. Both men scrambled to the nearest window and peeked out of the blinds. The vehicles outside were not starting. That was evident by not just the continued darkness, but by men and women now scrambling to escape their wheeled tombs. The ground had begun to crawl. In the darkness, it was like the ground had become water, but the screams started as the other scientists discovered the reality. The ground wormed and weaved, and when someone was unlucky to get close enough, the crawling creatures would speed up their legs. The multi-legged horrors skittered up their bodies. Miniature copies of the larger beast, these were three or four feet long centipedes. The smaller creatures were equally vicious, burrowing their clawed faces into the flesh of their victims.
“It must be a nest or something.” Don gibbered out.
Sherman’s bearing was shaking. “Where did it come from? It wasn’t there before the light. Where they come from?” Sherman said, perplexed.
“I don’t know, I—I can’t think of a logical answer.” The screams were getting fewer and fewer. “We have to do something.”
“Like what? Go out there?” Sherman threw back accusatorially. “Look at those things out there! There’s hundreds of them.”
As Don was about to fire back, the entire trailer rocked. Something was pressing on it from the side. The trailer tilted. Tapping began to run the length of the trailer. Starting first at the sides, extensive sets of taps moved and created a train of sound around them as the tapping moved up along the roof of the trailer.
“Shhhh.” Sherman instinctively shushed Don. The trail of rapid clicks was traced by the men’s eyes. The rapid clicking quickly surrounded the men. The sound of large insectoid legs moving across the top as the massive creature enwrapped the trailer. The men could all but see the massive body that was serpentine around them.
Don’s eyes went to the window and both men instinctively moved away from the glass frame.
“It’s reinforced, it can’t-” Don whispered, but Sherman held his finger to his lips. The creature stopped moving outside. The men then stopped moving. They waited, their eyes shifting slowly along the ceiling and walls for their many-legged predator. Then the rocking started again. The trailer shifted and bounced the opposite way. The clattering of hundreds of legs tapping away on the metal frame of the trailer. The trailer then settled, and the movement stopped. Shuffling of the long slender body being carried over the soft dirt and sand outside quickly faded.
The men waited. Fear burned in their souls. Sherman’s torqued heart was in his ears. Don was silently beseeching his own heart to stand still. With a thready pulse, Sherman closed his eyes as no further noise came from their metal entombment.
Don took a sharp breath to speak, but Sherman raised his hand defiantly. Piercing eyes from Sherman told Don all he needed. Don gingerly wiggled his fingers into his breast pocket. There he slowly drew out his cellphone. The two men maintained eye contact. Don looked down as he pressed on his phone. Both men saw the phone remain blank. Don then gestured with his chin for Sherman to try his phone. Sherman slowly laced his fingers into his pocket and withdrew his own phone. He tried three times, and his phone remained a brick. Sherman mouthed “why” to Don, and Don could only shrug.
Outside of the metal sarcophagus the men remained trapped in, the many legged friends had finished their meals. The sand shifted lightly under their full belly as they skittered off in search of their next victim.